Students’ dining options keep getting thinner.
On Sept. 8, Campus Dining and Shops announced it would close Crossroads Culinary Center (C3) for breakfast on weekdays until further notice, dealing another blow to the thousands of students who live, eat and learn on campus.
“Due to ongoing staffing challenges, it was necessary for us to adjust our services during the breakfast period,” Raymond Kohl, marketing and communications director of CDS, said in a statement to The Spectrum.
The decision comes on the heels of temporary closures to Hubies and The Bowl, two popular Ellicott Complex lunch and dinner eateries. CDS says the restaurants have been closed since the start of the fall semester due to staffing shortages.
The C3 announcement comes despite CDS’ goals to expand dining options as the year goes on, which Kohl made clear to The Spectrum in early September.
“We appreciate students’ patience and we [are] working on solutions to reduce wait times and reopen dining locations,” he said in a previous interview.
C3 was previously open for weekday breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Now the Ellicott dining hall is only open for dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekends.
Students can still grab weekday breakfast from Ellicott Complex’s Sizzles, Wrap it Up and Au Bon Pain, Perks and the Student Union’s Tim Horton’s. In an effort to increase students’ options, CDS moved up Wrap it Up and ABP’s opening times from 8 a.m. to 7 a.m. Sizzles still opens at 8 a.m.
Jada Gowanlock, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, says the hour change is particularly inconvenient because C3 was the only place students could make breakfast reservations in advance. Now she has to take a gamble with Sizzles, Wrap it Up or ABP, where lines can number in the double digits.
“It definitely depends on the time of day but C3 was absolutely much quicker than standing in a line for 10 minutes or more,” Gowanlock said.
To help mitigate the added limitations to student meal plans, CDS increased the breakfast exchange rate from $6.50 to $8.50. But Madeline Braun, a freshman linguistics major, says this still doesn’t address the scarcity of dining options.
“I’m glad that they gave us an extra $2 to spend but I just wish that there were more hours for places,” Braun said. “By the time I’m done with showering, and if I miss the bus and need to walk to class, it’s always like, ‘Am I going to get down to the Wrap it Up line and it’s going to be too long to even wait?’”
Kohl says the change in service hours was communicated to meal plan holders with social media postings, signage near the dining locations and an email to all students with a meal plan. But some students still say they feel like they were in the dark about the abrupt service change.
Sophomore occupational therapy major Amy Travers told The Spectrum she didn’t know about the C3 breakfast closure until she saw The Spectrum’s Instagram story asking for student input.
“I didn’t know C3 was closed for [weekday] breakfast until I saw The Spectrum’s [Instagram] story about it,” she said. “I think they need to do a better job of communicating some of these changes because some people may not know about these changes and go to the dining place to find out it’s closed.”
Junior mechanical engineering major Jungo Miyazaki says limiting dining options flies in the face of the social distancing measures CDS employs at C3 during dinner.
“It’s pretty crowded,” he said. “So, like, what’s the point of spreading people out [during dinner]?”
Reservations at C3 are sorted by sections so that the number of guests doesn’t exceed the dining hall’s social distancing capacity. But UB’s walk-up breakfast areas like Sizzles and Wrap it Up don’t have the same stickers on the floors that helped keep students six-feet apart like they did last year.
The frustration extends beyond the students. Freshman business major Grace Pignato says her parents are just as frustrated as she is.
“My parents are like ‘Why aren’t you using your meal swipes? We paid for it,’” she said. “And I tell them, ‘I never know when things are open and C3’s hard to get a reservation at.’”
Natalie Doller is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org